More apartments for growing River District get support from Downtown Development Authority

The new $12 million eatery specializes in pies and bakes on all new equipment. Jacob Laxen

Nearly 200 apartments planned for the Poudre River District won support from the Downtown Development Authority, which will eventually be asked to help fund some parts of the project.

CA Ventures, the Chicago-based company that built Uncommon at 310 College Ave., plans to redevelop 2 acres along Willow Street, east of College Avenue. Two five-story buildings are proposed with a combination of studio, one- and two-bedroom market rate units.

The land, across Willow Street from Bas Bleu Theatre, has been used as a truck yard and shop for Schrader Oil Co. for decades and is considered blighted.

Because of its history, the site has a covenant and management plan that requires a soils management plan so when it is developed soil disruption is minimal.

On Thursday, CA Ventures showed the DDA preliminary designs and asked for its initial support before it comes back to request tax increment financing, or TIF, money.

Tax-increment financing is a development tool that allows the DDA to use the additional property tax revenue generated by the completed project for infrastructure or facade improvements.

The DDA board gave its initial support but asked CA Ventures to create a more edgy design, especially on the Willow Street facade, rather than having one long building face. And it wanted CA Ventures to create a better pedestrian experience, similar to Uncommon.

CA Ventures has not said how much TIF money it planned to request but said it would be back after it progresses through the city’s development process.

Ryan Sadowy, director of development for CA Ventures, said the design is still a work in progress based on comments it heard from the Landmark Preservation Commission in April and the DDA.

An aerial view of the housing proposed by CA Ventures for Willow Street looks northeast, with Rodizio Grill in the foreground and the Northside Aztlan Center on the left.

The River District — the area just northeast of Old Town Square including Jefferson, Linden and Willow streets and Lincoln Avenue — is starting to come into its own, 10 years after it was established.

The city is investing $8.5 million in a new Poudre River kayak and whitewater park that is designed to further energize downtown.

Several infill and renovation projects have already been completed in the district, including Block One, Legacy Senior Residences, Millhouse Apartments, Wolverine Farm Letterpress & Publick House, Rooftops on the River townhomes, Ginger and Baker, and Union restaurant.

If CA Ventures goes ahead with its project, it will double the number of apartments in the River District. Legacy Apartments, Mill House, Rooftops on the River and Block One combined have 163 units.

DDA Board member Jenny Bramhall applauded the additional apartments downtown but said, "I don’t want us to lose our focus on affordable housing. It’s a bit of a crisis for many of our workers."

CA Ventures did not say what rents might be, but the median Fort Collins rent is nearly
$1,300. Rents on new apartments top $1,500.

The soon-to-be built Confluence mixed-use project at the corner of Linden and Willow will add 25 for-sale condos and myriad retail and office spaces, along with a city-planned parklet at the corner.

CA Ventures has gone through a conceptual review with the city’s planning department but has not submitted formal plans yet.

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